Update: On 22nd April 2021 The House Commons declared for the first time that genocide is taking place against Uyghurs in China, by approving the motion that “Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are suffering crimes against humanity and genocide”. This is an important step in the right direction, but action must now follow words.
Debate on mass human rights abuses in Xinjiang – my speech
The most distressing and horrific persecution taking place today, is that of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, China. I’d like to remind the House, that Muslims are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan, a month of fasting, reflection, charity, and prayer.
It pains me that millions of Uyghur Muslims are facing some of the harshest abuses one can imagine during this holy period.
As the Vice Chair of the APPG on Uyghurs, I have been highlighting the plight of Uyghur Muslims for several years and have heard first-hand harrowing testimonies from survivors, their family members and those who have witnessed what I can only call inhumane and chilling human rights abuses.
The CCP appears to be engaged in what some experts are calling a campaign of demographic genocide.
I do fear that the gravity of my words and efforts, are simply not being matched by the world’s reaction and more worryingly, this very government.
But members know already that the persecution of the Uyghurs is not new. For decades they have faced repression at the hands of the CCP. But it has escalated to an entirely new scale. Report after report has highlighted the mounting evidence of human rights abuse and shows that Beijing has violated “each and every act” banned by the United Nations convention against genocide. The actions that the Chinese authorities are taking in Xinjiang contravene China’s own constitutional provisions on freedom of religion and its obligations under the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Foreign Secretary said in January that, “We shouldn’t be doing trade deals with countries committing human rights abuses well below the level of genocide.” Yet, by rejecting the Genocide amendment to the Trade Bill, the government has done everything it can to protect the UK’s right to do trade deals with potentially genocidal states.
“Global Britain” it seems, is just empty rhetoric with no substance.
Beijing’s decision to now sanction colleagues across the House for raising legitimate concerns around genocide in Xinjiang, is obscene. Can the Minister outline what steps he is taking to respond to British Parliamentarians who have been sanctioned by the CCP?
Because Madame Deputy Speaker, the words “Never Again” are utterly meaningless if we fail to act.
History will remember us, and we have a moral duty to step in and stop these heinous crimes. Powerful interventions from faith communities including the Board of Deputies of British Jews have passionately called on the government to support the genocide amendment, and the Jewish community has even drawn parallels between the horrors in Xinjiang to the Holocaust. Despite this, the government continues to drag its feet on holding China to account and instead puts trade above human rights.
The government must continue to press the Chinese Government to close detention camps, cease indiscriminate surveillance and restrictions on religion and culture, and to allow independent experts and UN officials, proper access to Xinjiang.
After the genocides in Rwanda, Srebrenica, and Darfur, we said “Never again”. I hope we can all agree today that we cannot add Xinjiang to that list. I urge the government to not turn a blind eye to millions of innocent lives because of economic interests.
You can watch my speech here.